Jessica Jackley — Untapped Capital

Posted on Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Jessica Jackley is currently an investor at UntappedVC and the founder of Alltruists,  a startup disrupting the $300B volunteer economy.

Jessica shares how her experience starting Kiva shaped her view of what is possible.
 
 

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Jessica Jackley is the founder of Untapped Capital an early-stage fund investing in the unexpected. She is also currently simultaneously the founder and CEO of Alltruist, a startup that is innovating in the volunteer economy. And, she first made a huge impact on the world and the lives of many as the founder of Kiva, a nonprofit micro finance platform that has made over a billion and a half loans.

Jessica, thank you so much for coming on the pod.

Thank you so much, it’s a pleasure to be here.

So, I know that I’m not going to be able to hit all of the highlights today. Um, but maybe we could hit some of the big ones and maybe you could start us with a little bit more about Kiva, how you got that going.

Absolutely. Um, I was fresh out of college, you know, very wide-eyed and idealistic. And I mean, I guess I still am today, but definitely less experienced, younger, more energy, all the things. So, I decided I wanted to learn about social entrepreneurship and at the time, you know, I was working at the, an admin at the Stanford graduate school of business, and I did not have any path forward.

I just knew that I’d moved to California, someone on a whim, I got a job as a temp. It evolved into this admin role. And I was right there around a lot of amazing people who were making an incredible impact you know, there, there were people doing pioneering things and I felt like I was close, but not one of them. And I wasn’t, I was, I was sort of watching from the sidelines and my big break, I guess, was when I heard.

Dr. Muhammad Yunus speak at the business school. I stayed late after work as a, as a staffer crashed the lecture, learned about micro finance for the first time and was just sort of awestruck by his story, which is a very accessible story, the way he so humble. He describes it very much as you know, I listened very carefully to the needs of women who were in need of what turned out to be small loan without exorbitant interest rates.

And he, he did that and the rest is sort of, you know, microfinance history. So I thought, well, I want to do that too. I want to go listen carefully to people that I’d like to serve and see what I find out. So I quit my job, because I was like, well, I’ve got to go learn about this stuff. I moved to East Africa. I took an unpaid internship back when that was the thing, too.

And then I was in Kenya and Uganda and Tanzania for a few months, hearing stories of entrepreneurs that had received actually just $100 to start or to grow their businesses. You know, you spend months living with families and getting to know them past the initial interview or introductions.

And a lot of them living in no mud huts, like really, it’s you and them, and you’re chatting and just interacting and having building relationship for, you know, hours or days on end. And you start to see, it sounds so, so trite and cheesy, but really as one of my first experiences out in the big wide world, I’ve started to see and understand their stories in a very different way that I had from a distance.

I had heard a lot of stories of sadness and suffering and desperation and, swoop in and help write the request to me as it would be donor was throw some money at this problem, um, at poverty

and when I was there sitting with families, I didn’t, wasn’t asked for handouts, I wasn’t asked to swoop in and help her save. I was asked strategic questions about like where they could access loan capital, where they could access business training, that sort of thing. So all that said, putting these pieces together.

First. Wow. A lot of individuals here don’t want handout. They would like alum. I don’t see anyone nearby. And a lot of the very rural areas where I was working. I didn’t see anybody, any organizations that were right there in that village or serving that village, And then again, very naively, I thought, well, Hey, what if I don’t have money?

But what if. Bugged, my friends and [00:04:00] family, and they could each put in a little bit. And that would add up again. I say it’s in a silly, sort of long version way because nobody was saying crowdfunding back then. That wasn’t a word. So that’s what Matt, my co-founder and I did. We spanned some friends and family and said, Hey, Jessica met these new folks, these new friends and Uganda, or seven of them, and our very first round of loans and they need, you know, $200 here, $300.

And we think they’ll pay it back and we’re not gonna charge you interest. It’s just going.

to be this 0% loan to help them out. What do you say the money came in and over again? This pilot round, about $3,000 in loans was a success. We did that again and again and again. And the first year Kiva facilitated about 500,000 in loans.

almost right to the year. It was like a week or two after, our year anniversary. And then the second year was 15 million in loans. And I suppose, 40, the next a hundred, the next, you know, God, I don’t even know what after that, but it’s, it’s over one and a half billion dollars in loans, as you mentioned earlier, and it’s really.

You know what a gift to have gotten to be a part of that from day one and then what a gift [00:05:00] to have it be just galvanized and me, but it’s really possible to go build things. You know, I had known a little bit generally that entrepreneurs existed and I saw people at the business school building great things, but it’s different to watch and admire.

then to actually get to do it yourself and get to take a swing at things. And I left that experience, convinced that I could do.

like when you moved to east Africa and you were going to go listen and have these conversations, did you speak Swahili?

I learned actually I did. I didn’t, when I began and I had lots of stop start, like false starts where I would learn. Leah or I learned tribal languages with the family, and I was like taking notes in my journal, trying to keep my vocab up. And yet I was not learning so Healy. So then I’d go to the next village and it would be useless.

So it really took me a while. do you get a chance to still just feel good about all of what you’ve built? Like is there, do you still get to take the victory lap sometimes?

That’s a super sweet question. That’s really nice if you’d ask. So. You [00:06:00] know, as anyone who has been a part of the creation of a nonprofit understands, well, you’re not, I mean, the currency there is not cashing out. You don’t, Mike drop them, like sell all your equity. You basically get a job the next day. So for me, the currency was, and is.

Feeling gratitude for the experience I learned just more than I’ve learned any other time in my life. It was such a compressed, incredible education. And then, yeah, I think people get to feel good in roles like that and experiences like that, based on the fact that they got to sort of express their own version of a theory of change, to the best of their knowledge, they get to sort of be the person deciding how this great thing might happen.

The strategy around that. And that feels really good. but there’s also just, there’s a lot of love. I mean, a lot of people who spend their waking, working hours, trying to solve problems,there’s such a deep, um, questionable, sense of purpose.

And I, I’ve never. Really done well without that.

And I [00:07:00] feel incredibly lucky that I’ve gotten to choose. I get to decide what to build next again and again, and it’s such a joy.

I’m still lovely. Well, I am going to keep feeling good for you. Let’s chat about profounder profounder was equity crowdfunding again, before anyone else was really doing equity, crowdfunding.

Yeah. Yeah.

it was before it was legal. So that’s fun. one of the things that we saw, so I let I last keep after it was up and running for a few years and I realized, oh my gosh, I can build things. So I moved on and I thought, I want to still work with my grunter prizes. And that led to sort of, um, a process of discovery around what small business America needed.

 Like anyone who’s in small business and has ever tried to source capital knows like, you know, bank loans are problematic. There’s not, there’s actually not a lot of great ways to access capital.

So anyway, we started to wonder why is it so hard for small businesses to get the capital they need? And also as again, I made the joke about not necessarily cashing out financially from. [00:08:00] So whenever I was in business school and I would, I would see other folks starting incredible companies, straight up for profits, but like really wonderful things for the world.

And I never had the capital to be able to invest, but a lot of others would get in on these. What I heard about right were friends and family rounds, but you had to be an accredited. And sophisticated investor. I mean, nonsensical sort, we can go down the rabbit hole of what each of those things mean or credit is actually like a legit understandable quantifiable thing.

Of course, even though, depending on how you slice it, like 90 plus percent of the population is unaccredited. So from the onset. Excludes a giant, swath of the population. But anyway, let’s just say you’re accredited and you have enough liquid assets to, you know, to get into that special category.

Well, then you have to also be sophisticated to count, to be able to participate in these private fundraising rounds. And that’s just what would hold up in court, right? It’s not like take this test, get a thumbs up or thumbs down. You’re sophisticated or not. So it was just this crazy. We found out that it.

Ridiculous sort of set of requirements that made it [00:09:00] very, very difficult for regular people to invest in startups that are even, you know, they’re started by classmates, even if they had the capital. What does that look like? But I didn’t. And so we started to think, what would it be like to create a platform where everyday people could invest in the yoga studio, down the street that they love or the, the, cafe or whatever it is, whatever the small business was that they know and love, what would it look like to contribute to the growth?

 So we started to understand what, what kind of investments were attracting. To wouldn’t be investors. What kind of capital do businesses need, et cetera. And we built a system. It was sort of like a beautiful Kickstarter ask, like, set of like mad Lindsey forums where you’d answer a handful of questions and poof you’d have a legally compliant term sheet if you wanted to raise an equity or revenue share.

So we did that. It was great. We did that for a few years, got up and running helped a number of small businesses So it was, it was crowdfunding. What was tricky was that the jobs act hadn’t been written yet.

It started to become a thing, a little twinkle in the eyes of legislators around the [00:10:00] one and a half to two years into pro founder’s existence. But basically in the meantime, what we were trying to do was push on all these many, many of them, very undefined. boundaries that had been written in these dusty, old state exemptions 20 to 50 years ago, saying things like, you know, people could invest in a private round of fundraising if they’re a pre, if it’s a preexisting substantial relationship.

 if it’s friends and family yeah. and nobody had defined, well, what does it mean to be friends or family? Does a Twitter follower count?

Is that a substantial pre-existing relationship? So we tried to push on those things and expand what would have been a normal, typical, very traditional, private round of fundraising We learned a ton, the jobs act came around and we decided, you know what we’re going to do.

We’re going to slow down the company a little bit, reinvest resources into trying to like push for this to happen. And Dana, I was too pregnant with the twins to fly. I just had to like, you know, wave from back on the, on the west coast. But Dana flew to DC a few times. I mean, presented in front of Congress.

It was amazing. And we [00:11:00] actually. A chance to participate in writing language entitled for around the crowdfunding exemption. It was amazing. And then we went and saw the things signed into law in the rose garden. So it was an incredible experience, really, really fun. And it made what we had built, not as relevant.

So long story short, we wound the company down. We gave them the assets that were left basket back to investors. And I had my first two kids. I love that you helped shape the jobs act and then gave birth to your twins. Awesome. And do you still stay pretty current with what’s going on in the world of crowdfunding?

And do you have any advice for people who might be thinking about crowdfunding as a potential source of capital?I guess I’d say like, I don’t want to. You know, burst anyone’s bubble, but I think there are some myths about not how easy it will be, but the idea that you can just, you post it and they will come, right. And it will be funded. You really have to do so much work and kind of max out your own network, your own [00:12:00] relationship and everyone that they’ve ever met, right.

Your friends and family, their friends and family. And you have to push through that And even then. you know, it’s very rare for something to just really catch on and, and be spread around to brand new people and to go viral and have within a compressed amount of time attentive new supporters step up.

So that’s one piece. I think another piece is, gosh, we’ve bent over backwards. We tried so hard to ensure. That even somebody with 50 bucks or a hundred bucks or 500 bucks could have equity.

Now I love the principle of that. And I think people, really loved the idea of.

that. And I think in most situations, the feeling of ownership. Can be transferred through so many different, really interesting creative options, membership programs, you know, rewards, programs, whatever, there’s feeling of participation.

And, and there is real legitimate participation and there’s that versus like I have X number of shares or I own, you know, I’m going to get points. [00:13:00] Zero to 5% of future revenues starting in two years lasting for four years. You know what I mean? Like there’s a lot of logistics to provide actual ownership.

And I just think it’s worth really thinking through and having conversations with investors, the supporters, I should say, to make it more general about what’s actually important to them because, you know, you would have thought that I would have learned it with Kiva 0% loans, no financial reward, but just an incredible experience.

 So it’s actually worth going into this for a second.

So when we first said, Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to have people do a 0% loan? I know it’s classic. Like you look back at the stories and we got a thousand no’s before we got one. Yes, but seriously, a lot of non-profit professionals experts would say if it’s not tax deductible, nobody’s gonna want.

Now let’s just take that for a minute. The number of times I’ve gone to like drop off my sweater as a Goodwill and gotten my receipt for $72 or whatever it is, it just doesn’t matter to taxes. Usually it just, it just doesn’t. So this tax deductibility thing, great. Again, the feeling of it, the idea that it exists wonderful, but at $25 at a time,[00:14:00] Actually a lot of people didn’t really care.

So that was one assumption that we tested and were correct about it turned out

You know, we got a lot of people on, in the socially responsible investing world who would say there’s $25 year percent loan. That’s nonsense.

It’s like the worst investment ever. You’re like not even guaranteed your money back. And if you get it back, you make zero. Why would I do. Well, because it’s fun and it’s actually a donation that comes back. So it’s like the best donation ever, worst investment in terms of financial return, but it turned out to be a thing.

People want it. So I should have learned all my lessons there. I didn’t with profounder and with other crowdfunding experiences, I think the exchange of value, sometimes it’s really a mystery and there are these assumptions that we walk around with about what people expect and

I think It’s really worthwhile to step back, be sure. About what people want and expect. So those are two little things that I think, were, were big truths for me throughout that 10 plus years ago.

It’s interesting. I wonder if it actually. Some into VC as I didn’t want to talk about [00:15:00] you’re investing out of untapped and maybe just touch briefly on, on collaborative

Absolutely. so collaborative was actually, so Craig Shapiro founder was a seed investor in profounder

We, um, I mean, the twins were just, I mean, I feel like it was days old and Craig asked me to come on and be his first venture partner and, you know, the evolution for me from a totally selfish standpoint, I thought, okay, I’ve worked with entrepreneurs. In abject poverty, like need, is there entrepreneurs out of necessity?

Many of them. And I I’ve gotten to work with those humans and that was really gratifying. And then I worked with small business America, different level of need oftentimes, and And then with cloud,Well, first of all, I adore Craig. I love collaborative and I feel very proud to have gotten to be a part of the very early days. I mean, the portfolios, the CTA didn’t lift in love every in out school and good eggs, Tala task rabbit, just upstart a number of really amazing. Organizations and categories that I cared a lot [00:16:00] about and that I had some background in and I appreciated Craig’s approach to just jumping on the trend of the sharing economy and of collaborative consumption. so I learned a lot being there. I really loved it. And I noticed one thing that bridges to my experience with untapped, I noticed that oftentimes, once there was a hot deal, DCS would want to be the ones to get in on it, obviously. And suddenly the entrepreneur would have more money than they knew what to do with

So then fast forward with untapped. Yohei and I, my partner Yohanna, I really thought, what would it look like to find entrepreneurs who are just at the beginning of their fundraising process, or maybe haven’t even thought about it yet, get to know them support, encourage them. And then

We talked about sort of different personas that exemplify who we’re talking about here. So it would be, you know, heads down founders that just haven’t taken the time Um, we talked about industry experts who might there’s. So for example, there’s one of our companies, windmill is green AC units, and it’s started by founders who have like family history, like generations of, their family has been involved in [00:17:00] AC So industry experts, they know what they’re doing, but didn’t necessarily. Have, you know, the same kind of networks you’ll have large and not overlapping networks So it sounds very simple. Like get in early, make introductions, help them with additional funding. But what we’re trying to do is reach out to people. Pre-seed who are not just at that moment in time, but are working on something in a particular corner of the little pocket of the world or the country. who don’t necessarily have Silicon valley or LA or New York roots to be able to tap into that community. And we help them do that.

And so if you’re trying to find people who are under networked, how do you network your way into meeting them? You know, how do you. These companies.

Yeah. So I want to give all the credit in the world to Yohei. So he is this master of outbound. He did it at Techstars for a long time. He did it at scrum ventures. And so while most VCs rely on referrals and we certainly get a lot and I feel like the better we do, the more things go on, it’ll be a harder and harder thing and more of a challenge [00:18:00] to make the majority of our portfolio companies.

sourced through outbound, but so far so good.

 But basically Yohei read everything, tracks. Everything has like, the air table, this monstrous amazing, set of data where we are able to, anything that catches his eye at all goes in there. And so at the top of the funnel is giant for us. he built, you know, we built this custom no-code CRM. he shares that with this kind of, I’m really proud of it. It’s an amazing LP portal where all of our LPs get to see that from the top of the funnel down. So they, they get to watch that process.

So, anyway, we’re also, it’s been a really efficient partnership, so Yohanna and I have been friends for a few years. I met him when I was Disney Imagineering, first EIR, and he was there doing the accelerator program.

so just to go back, so your whole pipeline, you show with your share with your LPs.

Yeah.

It’s fun.

what it leads to is a lot of non-monetary value exchange again. So if there’s an interesting company that is an area of interest [00:19:00] of one of our LPs or a handful of them, we’ll let them know. We’ll let them watch and learn.

And even if we don’t invest, we’ve made connections that have been beneficial for both.

So Jessica you’re, I feel like very driven by your own. Compass how do you think about the success of untapped and like what success will look like for you?

Yeah.

So We’ve decided we went back and forth on this for a long time. let’s go back to collaborative for a minute. if Craig ever listens to this, he can, you know, laugh along with me on this one, but I was such a zealot of.

impact impact language. We should be an impact fund and he’s like, no, no, no, no, no. We’re just gonna be a little more general about it. Like, is this going to be good for the world at scale? and you can define good in all sorts of ways. he talks about cultural impact and other ways of things being again here, my air quotes. Good. And. It was tough for me at the time, but I really learned a lot in respect to that. And so yoga and I decided not to be an impact on the outright, but to focus on [00:20:00] finding people who we really believe in

We wanted to be people who found and saw and like, Honored, you know, the potential that we saw in entrepreneurs that might not have had many others looking at them. So I, um, there’s another piece I want to talk about.

So a few years ago I worked as a chief impact officer at a. Kind of random, um, two three-year engagement part of my job there was to. Revamp this algorithm that calculated ESG factors and weighted them and, with the swipe of a debit card users, it was retail, retail banking users could see.

Okay, great. I spent seven 50 and, you know, target target gets a, and then it would give you a number, target is a 97 or 94, 82, whatever. on our scoring system this number would be the result of hundreds of data points crunching through our algorithm.

That would say here’s how good the company is to people in planet. this is a great idea. It’s a beautiful vision. What if you can just have this steady drip of information to consumers purchase [00:21:00] after purchase day after day, everyone would get a lot smarter about. How their money matters And I loved working on that and I learned a ton. And one of the things that became very clear to me was this set of factors. Like you can really, it’s never really possible to compare apples to apples. It’s just, every business is different. And even within categories, there’s always exceptions. And so.

when we work with our entrepreneurs, our portfolio companies, we decided the best way to ensure that as they grow and scale, they won’t have blind spots.

It sounds too easy, but it’s through relationship and through dialogue, we want to be partners. We want to be available and to talk through and to help bring up when it’s relevant at each stage, like the right questions and answers again, this is something we dream of sort of codifying, but the whole point is it has to be somewhat bespoke.

It has to be. Okay. You make shoes. you do only SAS. You do, you have a brick and mortar location. So the questions are going to be different for each company, but I’d like to think that we are able to have.To be help them be smarter and more thorough about how they think [00:22:00] about risk and opportunity over time.

Cause that’s really all that it is right. If you’re, you don’t have blinders on to the world and to what the result of your actions, Are the results, right? There’s this myth of neutrality, but every company has a social impact, whether it’s good, better, just terrible. And so the, I believe the entrepreneurs, the companies that are aware and really trying to be cognizant of that as much as possible and look around all the time to understand.

How, what they build, what they make affects people on either side, right up and down the chain.

So I think that if we can help companies, we kind of, our organizations do that more and more from day one, everyone will be better off. Yeah, for sure. And I know you have so many thoughts on building thoughtful companies. So I want to move on and talk about building altruists. and I’ll say that I hear pitches all day long, but I have not heard of anyone else innovating in the volunteer economy.

Uh, with pleasure. It’s like my favorite thing to talk about as well. So. I have four kids. my oldest two, as you know, our kiddos know each other. Our oldest two are 10 years old. They’re identical twin [00:23:00] boys. And then I have a six year old boy, and then I have a 19 month old little girl can’t believe she’s that big.

 Anyway, I had all these aspirations to volunteer with them a lot more. And here we are a decade in and it was, it was this reality check. Is that birthday approaches, like, how am I doing as a parent? Am I doing the things I thought and dreamed I would do volunteering has been just such hitting my head against the wall again.

And again, it’s hard to find and schedule opportunities. Most of the time children aren’t allowed. There’s not a lot that’s accessible for them, even if it’s okay to bring them, there’s a whole conversation to be had about the problematic sort of donor grooming, like fake volunteer experiences that exist that are just non-profits are really trying to do a good job, engaging volunteers, but it’s not actually helpful to burden in a time scene for them.

 so. I really wanted to figure out a way, especially as we were on locked down, like how do we not just have our lives be waiting for the doorbell to ring and another package dropped off and we just consume it. Right. What, what would it look like to reach back out into the world in a way that is helpful?

That is useful in a way that says we are exercising our values by showing up, [00:24:00] not just in our own little bubble at home, but again, out into. The world with, with people in, on issues that matter to us.

So I thought wouldn’t be great if all these little subscription boxes that my kids have gotten over the years as gifts and whatever else would it be great if you could not just like, do a cool stem activity or do a great craft but what if there was an actual contribution you could make?

What if there’s a volunteer project that would arrive, but that also had an empathy building component and even a donation and maybe a list of all the ways you could do more like maybe this would be the gateway drug to much more involvement. Wouldn’t that be great? So I invented that.

So altruist delivers kid-friendly do at home volunteering, giving projects for families, all the projects can be done within about an hour. Right where you sit, you can just, you don’t have to leave your living room. The last box actually was, um, it’s focused on helping to save the bees and the pollinators.

And we did have kids make a pollinator hotel, but we figured worst case. You cracked the window and put it on your windows. Like that’s as much of going outside your home, as you need to do necessarily. Um, you asked about the volunteering economy [00:25:00] generally, so that was.

The personal need that I tried to meet but when you step back and as I looked at this space with my entrepreneur hat on, I guess I should say, I started to realize how fun and giant and it’s the wild west out there.

People 90% of people say they want to volunteer more. It’s incredible. It’s this giant percentage of the population. but It’s hard to find a schedule, people say that a lot of volunteer projects were sort of the same old, same old thing. It’s not that interesting. And people were feeling sort of uninspired. Right. And I think that’s a huge part of it. Naturally people want to volunteer, but they don’t end up doing it only about a third of us do.

And, when you look at those reasons and when you look at what nonprofits are able to provide, so on one side, you have this willing mob of people who they, all people want to help. I believe we all want to help, but nonprofits are always, you know, working their asses off. Underpaid understaffed, all the things, and they’re doing the thing itself, they’re serving beneficiaries of their product or service or intervention, whatever it is.

So they don’t have the bandwidth nor do they often have the skillset to design a great [00:26:00] experience for volunteers. And certainly for kids, for families, that actual, extra educational piece that will explain really to. To a seven-year-old. So what I want to do this, this Creek kind of a new marketplace, this willing community of people that want to help and nonprofits that need help.

They always, there’s always more to do. And within the set of things that are just legit useful to nonprofits, I want to engage and inspire all of these volunteers by really designing an incredible experience for them. Because again, you gotta remember this mob of people that want volunteer. Even the third that do it’s a $300 billion.

exchange of value where $300 billion worth of time and expertise and work is given away every year by volunteers. And really the exchange is just, they want to feel good. They want to feel a part of something important obviously there’s no money.

There’s no payment for that. So if we can even get a little bit more in terms of. A reward a thank you, a feel good experience to volunteers. My theory is that a lot more, goodness, a lot more involvement will be [00:27:00] unlocked So that’s my take over the world through love, vision for altruists and beyond Wow. I love that. Take over the world with love and I need to get the B one. I need to get on that.

Did I get on it? And then, and then we have housed, I’m sorry, we have hunger next month. And then we have a refugees focused, one that following and then clean water and then clean energy. And there’s a national parks thing and we have like, it’s going to be so fun.

Okay. I’m S I’m I’m checking my subscription right now. Not right now. okay. Couple more questions. along these lines, helping, not children, but students you’ve been teaching you crafted a course, your own course that USC, right?

It did. I did. It was great. A dream trick training ground for all this actually.

what are some of the main messages that you really want students to be here?

I want them to be thoughtful. So the course is called entrepreneurial solutions to the global goals. And we look at a different issue each week. So let’s say we’re looking at clean water one week. We’ll we’ll bring in, I’ll bring in Scott Harrison from charity water.

 And then I’ll bring in a for-profit that’s you know, what was it?

Was it Soma water one year? [00:28:00] Yeah, I’ll bring it. I’ll bring an organization that sells something within gives part of profits away to water projects. And we’ll sort of look at non-profit for-profit, everything in between policy we’ll look at, we’ll get a handful of guests to talk about their intervention, to the same problem, and we’ll think critically about the problem itself.

What really is going to move the needle and who’s doing what, And we also leave with an opinion on like, well, this I think is the best thing. This works the best. And sometimes it’s a very general, you know, oh my gosh, nothing’s ever going to change.

Unless policy changes sometimes it’s wow, this is a unique, this is uniquely suited to the private sector I teach them the basics of sort of, when you can grade something of value that people need and the people that need it can pay you.

You’re a for-profit. If they cannot afford it, you have to find someone else who believes in the value of what you’ve created and get them to pay for it. That’s a nonprofit. So I try to teach them to be somewhat agnostic about structure. I joke that it’s a task, not a religion, like, you know, whatever you end up choosing, just pick the right vehicle to get there as quickly as you can, but let’s look, let’s step back.

Look at the thing we want to do. [00:29:00] And then build the machine and gather the people and the resources around it that we need to get those particular things done. how do you, Jessica, how do you decide where to spend your time? I mean, we were all just flooded with email. Like, how do you decide what is worth

Oh, I don’t write back to any emails.

Is that right? You’re not my first

I’m joking, but I’m pretty bad at it, actually. Um, I think. I try to figure out what’s mission critical and reward myself with the stuff that is that I really love to do. And that’s fun closer to the end of the day. you know, that the end of the day always comes. I have never gotten everything done that I’ve dreamed of getting done. And then I, you know, I spend time with my family. I try to get some sleep, try to exercise, and I take more steps the next day.

And you said that you try to leave your students with inspiration. Anything that really stands out that you’d like to share?So. If I had to pick one thing, you know, I talked to them about what entrepreneurship really is, and there’s a million different definitions, probably not a million, but a [00:30:00] lot. But my very favorite one is Howard Stevenson’s former Harvard business school professor.

And he says that entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled. That sounds very like, you know, not kind of academic and not. You know, Swoon worthy, but I think it’s just gorgeous because it says entrepreneurship is about the pursuit about moving towards a thing that you want to go do and make happen.

The pursuit of an opportunity, a vision, like an imaginary world that you want to make real. So you’re running after this thing, right? It’s very romantic. You’re running, you’re running after this thing you’re pursuing it. Right? What a word without regard. to what you have in front of you. So there’s always going to be something wrong.

 There’s always something you can tell yourself or the world can tell yourself about why you’re not good enough, why you’re lacking. And the entrepreneurs that I got to meet first and my journey in the majority world.

They don’t have much of anything. They might, you know, they have like the ground beneath their feet and the clothes on their back. And that’s it so enough with, you know, complaining. I don’t have all the right things. Just figure [00:31:00] out how to keep pursuing day after day. The thing that you want to go make real in the world.

Like no excuse, no excuses. Right. So yeah, source capital when you can. That’s great. That’s amazing. But you don’t always have to have that to take another step. Sure. there’s going to be days when you are told or you’re telling yourself, well, I’m not old enough, I’m too old.

I don’t have enough experience. I have the wrong experience, whatever. Just take more steps anyway towards that thing. Cause that’s what great entrepreneurs do.

I love it. I love it. Well, I mean, along that, Jessica, I’m so excited for you to go pursue your vision of shaking up the volunteer economy and for what you’re building an untapped.

Um, it’s been wonderful talking to you today. Thanks for doing

this.

Thank you. are a great, a great friend and a great interviewer. Thank you for the conversation.